Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections of a Great Year: Running Feats, Accomplishments and Disasters!

Less than 10 hours until this calendar year is over. While my year has had its ups and downs, I would say on average it's been a great year!

All my pets that I started the year with, I end the year with (although two have worn e-collars including Gilligan who is wearing one now). They are all relatively healthy and happy and bring great joy to Tristan's and my lives.

Throughout the year both Tristan and I have been able to set numerous goals and accomplish the majority of these goals. In fact, other than two marathons I DNS (did not start) for factors out of my control, I finished every race I entered. All I started and ended with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

During the year, I returned to many marathon distance races I enjoy, including returning to the sight of my first marathon: Marine Corps Marathon. I also was lucky enough to return to one of my favorite marathons, Adirondack NY where I was fortunate enough to run into my friends Jesse and Jericho whom I had met two years ago. I was lucky enough to run many new marathons (gaining 3 more states in the process) including: Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa, Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans, Death Valley Marathon in CA and Las Vegas Marathon. At these marathons I was able to see my family (mom & grandmother at Tampa), run with Tristan (the first half of the New Orleans Marathon), Death Valley (where I saw Lauri F., Richard T., Joe C., and Lisa B.) and Las Vegas (where I saw Lauri and Larry M.)

I also was fortunate enough to run several ultras this year. My ultra calendar started with Umstead where I saw and met many friends (including a chance encounter with running superstar: Jamie D. who is so sweet and a class act, Emmy S.-who is another running machine but yet so kind, and Belinda P. who I have run with several times subsequently and is so nice and encouraging) and despite challenging weather had a great time. Umstead was a family affair. My sister, her friend Imelda and Tristan all came to support me. Since Umstead has drop bags every 6 miles, their primary focus was pacing me. All three of them paced me very late at night. It is so wonderful to have as good friends/family that I have. And of course I got to see Blake Norwood, the RD is the highlight of the race!

Niagara Ultra was my next event was a tremendous success! With the wonderful Race director Tony's permission, I started early so I could do all the sights. During my ~40 mile journey I was able to see the Falls, the Botanical Gardens, Spanish Aero Car, and Whirlpool Rapids. And of course the most important part of the race I was able to see my friends: Richard T., Joe C., Diane C., Iris, Henry and many others. In fact I was able to run about 5-10 miles with Richard during this race which was nice. Richard is so much fun and such a nice person.

My Niagara Ultra-Ultra was in preparation for Vermont 100. The Vermont 100's weather conditions made Umstead's weather look perfect. But alas with the support of other runners I was able to make it to the finish line in just over 29 hours. At VT100, I was able to see and catch up with many friends and meet many new friends including Rob A., Kris & Randy W., Emmy, Frank, Jamie, and many others. For about 45 miles, I ran with Rob Apple. In addition to being an ultra-running legend, he is such a wonderful person. Without his encouragement I am not sure I would have made it through the worst storm I have ever seen and experienced. What a super person and inspiration he is!

My final ultra was JFK50 miler. This was my 4th JFK50 miler and it was as fun as my previous runs. I am starting to figure out how to get to the right place in the conga-line that the Appalachian Trail becomes during the race. I also am developing the confidence to know that for me 50 miles is manageable if I have trained properly. During the race, my sister crewed for me. She is an awesome crew! At JFK 50 I ran into lots of folks including Joe C., Peter W., Dana from the coast guard and so many friends from the past 5 years. And of course I met lots of new runners including spending a majority of the AT with Antr D. from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. As with my past 3 JFK 50 milers, I ran with the Reston Runners on a team. The Reston Runners consists of so many great individuals, but the superstars of the JFK 50 include Anna Bradford and Jim Ashworth. They are both such well-respected and kindhearted people. The Reston Runners are a great running club and really provide the support and encouragement that makes completing a 50 miler possible.

My year ended with my first double marathon: Death Valley and Las Vegas. It was tough but seeing so friends and being able to say I completed my first double marathon made it all worthwhile.

As this year ends, I am already starting to fill up next year’s race calendar. I hope next year I am as fortunate as I have been this year to run with so many exceptional runners and people. There are so many people who have touched my life in so many ways. These positive interactions serve as inspiration to me. I look forward to seeing you next year and meeting many new runners as I pursue my life on the run.

Happy New Year

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